Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Here's an excerpt from a nice AdPulp read that's more of a sermon than it is a rant from David Burn's article Towards A Sustainable Communications Practice.
I’ve learned some things in my ten plus years working in advertising. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that I’m ill suited for this business. Simply put, I have the wrong temperament. I lack all patience for the daily compromises that must be made. That’s what this business is, like politics, one compromise after the next. I also have zero interest in serving “corporate America.” I loathe corporate America. Note, I did not say I loathe business. In fact, I love business. Business with a higher sense of purpose can do a lot of good for its workers, its customers and the community at large. Take Patagonia. Patagonia doesn’t just manufacture outdoor clothing and gear to make money. Patagonia is not part of corporate America, they’re part of corporate Utopia. The company is a change agent on many levels. When the founder and CEO writes a book called Let My People Go Surfing, you know it’s far from business as usual in Ventura.
Let My People Go Surfing is the antithesis of the book most captains of industry keep near and dear. Their book might be titled Let My People Eat Shit Sandwiches, because that’s the primary diet in corporate America. The ingredients that go into preparing this dish include: incompetence, greed, poor communication skills, need to know power trips, headgames, meritless advancement, fear for one’s job and a commitment to maintain the status quo at all costs. What’s lacking from the menu: innovation, honesty, trust, instinct, real teamwork and a moral compass to name just a few.
All the agency politics aside, it all really does boil down to the Truth. I've been lucky enough to have spent only 2 of my 15+ years in the advertising working for an agency. For an industry that thrives on communication there's an amazing lack of it.
As far as my two years of dining on bullshit sandwiches, compromising everything I know to be real, true and factual all while playing "The Game" as the buzzword dropping big wig drones I worked for refer to it, David Burn's comment about incompetence, greed, poor communication skills, need to know power trips, headgames, meritless advancement, fear for one’s job and a commitment to maintain the status quo at all costs rings especially true for me.
Don Sexton, a professor of business at Columbia University, said it best in a recent Ad Age article: "Sizzle alone won't do it, you have to have the steak as well. Great advertising makes a lousy product fail faster." More on that here.